The Haymaker – UFC Fight Night 107: Picks and Analysis
Hey fight fans, welcome back to another edition of The Haymaker. The UFC has a Fight Night card this Saturday night (6:30pm EST lock) from Nashville, TN. The card is headlined by an on-paper mismatch between the heavy favorite, Cub Swanson, and the underdog, Artem Lobov. The rest of the card is solid from top to bottom and there are several fights that are appealing from a DFS scoring perspective. The pricing is tight again this week and there are not a lot of viable options in the lower pricing tier which makes a balanced lineup construction the way to go once again. With so many options available this week for DFS, I will go over my favorite targets in each format to help make these decisions a little easier.
Main Event: Cub Swanson ($9,800) vs Artem Lobov ($6,400)
Odds: Swanson (-740) Lobov (+525)
Odds to finish: -255
Cub Swanson is coming off one of the most entertaining fights of the year against Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206 and is a massive favorite over the less experienced Lobov. Lobov is a low-output striker that has gone to decision in all four of his UFC fights with a middling 2-2 record and 14-12-1 record in his pro career. Swanson is the more well-rounded fighter and has faced much higher-level competition. Lobov looks to be improving every fight, but this is a big step up in competition for him and Swanson should be better in just about every area. Both fighters are very durable but Swanson has finishing upside and has the best inside-the-distance prop at -195. Swanson is the more technical striker and has excellent footwork and head movement, but his biggest advantage lies in the grappling game, as he is an experienced BJJ black belt. Lobov has good takedown defense though, and his best chance at pulling off the upset will be on the feet. Lobov is a decent counter striker and Swanson has been caught a few times over his last several fights. I like Lobov to survive early, but his cardio is not as good and I expect Swanson to dominate once he tires out midway through the fight. Swanson is the most expensive fighter on the card, but he is such an active fighter that he should be able to pay off his salary with his high-output striking and grappling game if he does not score the early finish. Lobov’s durability may even work in the favor of Swanson when it comes to DK scoring, as the difference in finish points from the third to fifth round are low relative to the points you can rack up in the extra rounds.
Swanson makes for an elite play in both formats this weekend, but you also don’t have to force him into your lineups at his price. We saw last weekend with Demetrious Johnson, that even though he put up a solid 113 points, he didn’t end up in the winning tournament lineup due to better scores from cheaper fighters, and low winning scores from the bottom pricing tier. As far as Lobov is concerned, I think he’s fine to take a flyer on in tournaments at his price, in the hopes that he can catch Swanson with a strong counter punch, but I will not have much exposure to him as I feel that this outcome is not too likely.
Cash Game Plays
For cash games, you want to seek out fighters with high floors. This means selecting fighters that strike at a high output or score lots of takedowns. I generally look to get as many favorites as possible into my lineups as you need to get wins. 4 wins are generally enough to cash in most double ups and 50/50s.
Dustin Ortiz ($8,600) vs Brandon Moreno ($7,600)
Odds: Oritz (-200) Moreno (+170)
This fight is a matchup between two grappling-heavy Flyweights that is the second-most likely to go to a decision on the whole card. There are many similarities to the matchup from last weekend’s bout between Tim Elliott and Louis Smolka, which broke many DraftKings scoring records. That fight was a back-and-forth affair that featured several takedowns, advances, and reversals and scored an incredible 235 combined points between the fighters. It served as an example that active grapplers have a high floor, but also a very high ceiling, as Elliott scored an unprecedented 175 points in the win, while Smolka still managed to score 60 points in a loss. I don’t expect this fight to be quite as high scoring as last week’s, but each fighter has a high floor with a lot of potential upside due to each fighter’s active styles. Ortiz is a -200 favorite, but his fights tend to be really close regardless of whether he is a favorite or underdog. He tends to struggle against better wrestlers, but he will have the advantage in the wrestling department in this matchup. Moreno has decent grappling skills and scrambling ability himself, which should allow him to get back to his feet, should he get taken down. This gives Ortiz the opportunity to score multiple takedowns throughout the fight if he is unable to hold Moreno down. Moreno has solid BJJ skills and should have the advantage on the feet though, which makes him a viable underdog in this fight, as he is a very active fighter with high striking output.
Given the floor and ceiling of each fighter, I think both are in play for cash games and tournaments, with Ortiz being my preferred option, as the wrestling advantage should allow him to control the fight and get the win. Moreno’s price makes him very appealing in cash games, as there aren’t many fighters with a decent floor in the sub-$8k range. Ortiz is not a known finisher, so Moreno’s chances of at least making it to a decision are strong. Moreno is coming off back-to-back UFC wins and I expect him to be the more popular fighter after all the hype he received after his upset win over Smolka. The ownership difference and the potential for landing multiple takedowns make Ortiz the stronger play in tournaments. I don’t expect him to be very popular at his price given his lower odds to finish.
Hector Sandoval ($8,200)
Sandoval is a slight -120 favorite over Matt Schnell in this Flyweight bout, but the line has been moving towards Schnell, so it will be one to monitor approaching lock. This fight has a low chance of finishing inside the distance, according to Vegas, but there is some decent potential for DK scoring. Sandoval had a strong performance against Freddy Serrano last fight and was even able to land multiple takedowns over the former Olympic wrestler. Sandoval should have a huge advantage in the wrestling game in this matchup, as Schnell likes to fight off his back and gets taken down too easily. Schnell is a submission expert, but he doesn’t spend much time in top control, so a finish is not as likely off his back. Schnell will have a sizable 6” reach advantage, and is an active striker, but he is not very dangerous on the feet either. I expect Sandoval to look for the takedowns early in this one and he has some nice point potential in the grappling game which gives him a decent floor. Schnell is more of a boom or bust style of fighter, so he doesn’t have as much appeal as a cash game play despite the reasonable price and win odds.
Other cash options: John Dodson ($9,400), Al Iaquinta ($9,200), Danielle Taylor ($7,700)
The key to tournaments is to select fighters with high upside. On DraftKings, that means seeking out early finishes and fighters that land a high number of significant strikes. With the new DK scoring system you can also find a high ceiling with grapplers who score lots of takedowns and are active on the ground. It’s fine to have some popular plays but it will usually take one or two low owned plays to win a tournament.
Ovince Saint Preux ($8,700) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima ($7,500)
Odds: Saint Preux (-160) de Lima (+140)
Under 1.5 rounds: -240
This fight is the most likely to have a quick finish as the Vegas odds are -240 for it to finish inside the first round. The reasonable price tag on each fighter also makes it a very strong target in GPPs on both sides. De Lima has been a finish-or-be-finished type of fighter throughout his UFC career, and has not been out of the first round in any of his last 6 fights. He has 3 KO wins, 1 submission win, and 2 submission losses in those 6 fights. De Lima is a powerful striker who comes out super aggressive at the start of fights and looks to knock his opponent’s head off. He has poor cardio and the tendency to quit, so if he is unable to land the early KO, then he usually loses. His opponent, OSP, has not looked very good in his last few outings since his surprisingly strong showing against Jon Jones, but he has the tools to get the win in this matchup. OSP has a diverse striking game with some power and holds a 5” reach advantage over de Lima. He also has an advantage in the wrestling game which he will be able to utilize if he can survive the early barrage from de Lima. If he can avoid getting tagged early in the fight, then I like OSP’s chances to get the fight to the ground once de Lima gasses and either finish it with ground-n-pound or a submission. OSP is my preferred play in this fight, but it makes sense to have some shares of de Lima in case he’s able to land the quick KO.
Mike Perry ($8,400) vs Jake Ellenberger ($7,800)
Odds: Perry (-175) Ellenberger (+155)
Odds to finish: -385
Mike Perry and Jake Ellenberger each carry fight-ending power in their hands so it’s no surprise that this fight has the second-highest finish prop on the card. Perry is the younger, fresher fighter and strikes at a much higher output than Ellenberger, but he is also more hittable. He likes to engage in fire fights in the middle of the octagon and is willing to take a shot to land one. This style has worked well for him in his three fights in the UFC, as his chin has held up better than his opponent’s. That should be an advantage again in this fight, as Ellenberger has been KO’d several times in his career and his chin appears to be gone. Ellenberger is known for his powerful right hand though, so Perry is not likely to be able to take many of his shots. Ellenberger can be tentative at times, but he has taken a much more aggressive approach over his last couple fights which have resulted in a first-round win over Matt Brown and a first-round loss to Jorge Masvidal. It will be interesting to see which style Ellenberger opts for in this fight, as it could be a mistake to engage with Perry on the feet. Ellenberger does have a solid wrestling background though, and he would have an advantage if he wanted to take this fight to the ground.
I like having exposure to both sides of this fight in tournaments, but my preferred play is Perry, since I always go with the fighter with the better chin. Unfortunately, I think he will be one of the highest owned fighters on the card, but the upside for his price is hard to ignore. Ellenberger is a solid underdog play though, and is one of the few high-upside fighters below $8k. He has multiple paths to victory and is not likely to be a popular play.